Barack Obama Speech at Cairo University Full text by skamid

VIEWS: 247 PAGES: 13

More Info
									Text of President Barack Obama’s speech at Cairo University, as provided by CQ Transcriptions.

Good afternoon. I am honoured to be in the timeless city of Cairo and to be hosted by two
remarkable institutions. For over a thousand years, al-Azhar has, had stood as a beacon of Islamic
learning. And for over a century, Cairo University has been a source of Egypt’s advancement.
Together, you represent the harmony between tradition and progress.

I’m grateful for your hospitality and the hospitality of the people of Egypt. And I’m also proud to
carry with me the good will of the American people and a greeting of peace from Muslim
communities in my country: Assalamu Alaikum.


We meet at a time of great tension between the United States and Muslims around the world,
tension rooted in historical forces that go beyond any current policy debate. The relationship
between Islam and the West includes centuries of coexistence and cooperation but also conflict and
religious wars.

More recently, tension has been fed by colonialism that denied rights and opportunities to many
Muslims and a Cold War in which Muslim majority countries were too often treated as proxies
without regard to their own aspirations. Moreover, the sweeping change brought by modernity and
globalisation led many Muslims to view the West as hostile to the traditions of Islam.

Violent extremists have exploited these tensions in a small but potent minority of Muslims. The
attacks of September 11, 2001, and the continued efforts of these extremists to engage in violence
against civilians has led some in my country to view Islam as inevitably hostile not only to America
and Western countries but also to human rights.

All this has bred more fear and more mistrust. So long as our relationship is defined by our
differences, we will empower those who sow hatred rather than peace, those who promote conflict
rather than the cooperation that can help all of our people achieve justice and prosperity. And this
cycle of suspicion and discord must end.

I’ve come here to Cairo to seek a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the
world, one based on mutual interest and mutual respect, and one based upon the truth that
America and Islam are not exclusive and need not be in competition. Instead, they overlap and share
common principles, principles of justice and progress, tolerance and the dignity of all human beings.

I do so recognizing that change cannot happen overnight. I know there’s been a lot of publicity about
this speech, but no single speech can eradicate years of mistrust nor can I answer in the time that I
have this afternoon all the complex questions that brought us to this point.

But I am convinced that in order to move forward, we must say openly to each other the things we
hold in our hearts and that too often are said only behind closed doors. There must be a sustained
effort to listen to each other, to learn from each other, to respect one another, and to seek common

As the holy Koran tells us: “Be conscious of God and speak always the truth.”

That is what I will try to do today, to speak the truth as best I can. Humbled by the task before us
and firm in my belief that the interests we share as human beings are far more powerful than the
forces that drive us apart.

Now, part of this conviction is rooted in my own experience. I’m a Christian. But my father came
from a Kenyan family that includes generations of Muslims. As a boy, I spent several years in
Indonesia and heard the call of the azaan at the break of dawn and at the fall of dusk.

As a young man, I worked in Chicago communities where many found dignity and peace in their
Muslim faith. As a student of history, I also know civilization’s debt to Islam. It was Islam at places
like al-Azhar that carried the light of learning through so many centuries, paving the way for
Europe’s Renaissance and Enlightenment. It was innovation in Muslim communities...


It was innovation in Muslim communities that developed the order of algebra, our magnetic
compass and tools of navigation, our mastery of pens and printing, our understanding of how
disease spreads and how it can be healed. Islamic culture has given us majestic arches and soaring
spires, timeless poetry and cherished music, elegant calligraphy and places of peaceful
contemplation. And throughout history, Islam has demonstrated through words and deeds the
possibilities of religious tolerance and racial equality.


I also know that Islam has always been a part of America’s story. The first nation to recognize my
country was Morocco. In signing the Treaty of Tripoli in 1796, our second president, John Adams,

“The United States has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion or tranquillity of

And since our founding, American Muslims have enriched the United States. They have fought in our
wars. They have served in our government. They have stood for civil rights. They have started
businesses. They have taught at our universities. They’ve excelled in our sports arenas. They’ve won
Nobel Prizes, built our tallest building and lit the Olympic torch. And when the first Muslim American
was recently elected to Congress, he took the oath to defend our Constitution using the same holy
Koran that one of our founding fathers, Thomas Jefferson, kept in his personal library.


So I have known Islam on three continents before coming to the region where it was first revealed.
That experience guides my conviction that partnership between America and Islam must be based
on what Islam is, not what it isn’t. And I consider it part of my responsibility as president of the
United States to fight against negative stereotypes of Islam wherever they appear.

But that same principle must apply to Muslim perceptions of America. Just as...


Just as Muslims do not fit a crude stereotype, America is not the crude stereotype of a self-
interested empire. The United States has been one of the greatest sources of progress that the
world has ever known. We were born out of revolution against an empire.

We were founded upon the ideal that all are created equal. And we have shed blood and struggled
for centuries to give meaning to those words, within our borders and around the world.

We are shaped by every culture. Drawn from every end of the Earth, and dedicated to a simple
concept, E pluribus unum: Out of many, one.

Now much has been made of the fact that an African-American with the name Barack Hussein
Obama could be elected president.


But my personal story is not so unique. The dream of opportunity for all people has not come true
for everyone in America, but its promise exists for all who come to our shores. And that includes
nearly 7 million American Muslims in our country today who, by the way, enjoy incomes and
educational levels that are higher than the American average.

Moreover, freedom in America is indivisible from the freedom to practice one’s religion. That is why
there is a mosque in every state in our union and over 1,200 mosques within our borders. That’s why
the United States government has gone to court to protect the right of women and girls to wear the
hijab, and to punish those who would deny it.

So let there be no doubt...


... let there be no doubt, Islam is a part of America. And I believe that America holds within her the
truth that regardless of race, religion, or station in life, all of us share common aspirations: to live in
peace and security, to get an education and to work with dignity, to love our families, our
communities, and our God. These things we share. This is the hope of all humanity.

Of course, recognizing our common humanity is only the beginning of our task. Words alone cannot
meet the needs of our people. These needs will be met only if we act boldly in the years ahead. And
if we understand that the challenges we face are shared and our failure to meet them will hurt us all.

For we have learned from recent experience that when a financial system weakens in one country,
prosperity is hurt everywhere. When a new flu infects one human being, all are at risk. When one
nation pursues a nuclear weapon, the risk of nuclear attack rises for all nations.

When violent extremists operate in one stretch of mountains, people are endangered across an
ocean. When innocents in Bosnia and Darfur are slaughtered, that is a stain on our collective

That is what it means to share this world in the 21st Century. That is the responsibility we have to
one another as human beings. This is a difficult responsibility to embrace, for human history has
often been a record of nations and tribes, and, yes, religions subjugating one another in pursuit of
their own interests.

Yet in this new age, such attitudes are self-defeating. Given our interdependence, any world order
that elevates one nation or group of people over another will inevitably fail. So whatever we think of
the past, we must not be prisoners to it. Our problems must be dealt with through partnership, our
progress must be shared.


Now, that does not mean we should ignore sources of tension. Indeed, it suggests the opposite. We
must face these tensions squarely. And so, in that spirit, let me speak as clearly and as plainly as I
can about some specific issues that I believe we must finally confront together.

The first issue that we have to confront is violent extremism in all its forms. In Ankara, I made clear
that America is not and never will be at war with Islam.


We will, however, relentlessly confront violent extremists who pose a grave threat to our security
because we reject the same thing that people of all faiths reject, the killing of innocent men, women
and children. And it is my first duty as president to protect the American people.

The situation in Afghanistan demonstrates America’s goals and our need to work together. Over
seven years ago, the United States pursued al-Qaeda and the Taliban with broad international
support. We did not go by choice. We went because of necessity. I’m aware that there’s still some
who would question or even justify the offense of 9/11. But let us be clear. Al-Qaeda killed nearly
3,000 people on that day.

The victims were innocent men, women and children from America and many other nations who
had done nothing to harm anybody. And yet al-Qaeda chose to ruthlessly murder these people,
claimed credit for the attack, and even now states their determination to kill on a massive scale.
They have affiliates in many countries and are trying to expand their reach.

These are not opinions to be debated. These are facts to be dealt with. Make no mistake, we do not
want to keep our troops in Afghanistan. We see no military - we seek no military bases there. It is
agonizing for America to lose our young men and women. It is costly and politically difficult to
continue this conflict.

We would gladly bring every single one of our troops home if we could be confident that there were
not violent extremists in Afghanistan, and now Pakistan, determined to kill as many Americans as
they possibly can. But that is not yet the case.
And that’s why we’re partnering with a coalition of 46 countries. And despite the costs involved,
America’s commitment will not weaken. Indeed, none of us should tolerate these extremists. They
have killed in many countries. They have killed people of different faiths but, more than any other,
they have killed Muslims. Their actions are irreconcilable with the rights of human beings, the
progress of nations, and with Islam.

The holy Koran teaches that whoever kills an innocent is as - it is as it if has killed all mankind.


And the holy Koran also says whoever saves a person, it is as if he has saved all mankind.


The enduring faith of over a billion people is so much bigger than the narrow hatred of a few. Islam
is not part of the problem in combating violent extremism; it is an important part of promoting

Now, we also know that military power alone is not going solve the problems in Afghanistan and
Pakistan. That’s why we plan to invest $1.5 billion each year over the next five years to partner with
Pakistanis to build schools and hospitals, roads and businesses, and hundreds of millions to help
those who’ve been displaced.

That’s why we are providing more than $2.8 billion to help Afghans develop their economy and
deliver services that people depend on.

Now, let me also address the issue of Iraq. Unlike Afghanistan, Iraq was a war of choice that
provoked strong differences in my country and around the world. Although I believe that the Iraqi
people are ultimately better off without the tyranny of Saddam Hussein, I also believe that events in
Iraq have reminded America of the need to use diplomacy and build international consensus to
resolve our problems whenever possible.


Indeed, we can recall the words of Thomas Jefferson, who said: “I hope that our wisdom will grow
with our power and teach us that the less we use our power, the greater it will be.”

Today America has a dual responsibility to help Iraq forge a better future and to leave Iraq to Iraqis. I
have made it clear to the Iraqi people...


I have made it clear to the Iraqi people that we pursue no basis and no claim on their territory or
resources. Iraq’s sovereignty is its own. And that’s why I ordered the removal of our combat brigades
by next August. That is why we will honour our agreement with Iraq’s democratically-elected
government to remove combat troops from Iraqi cities by July and to remove all of our troops from
Iraq by 2012.

We will help Iraq train its security forces and develop its economy. But we will support a secure and
united Iraq as a partner and never as a patron.

And finally, just as America can never tolerate violence by extremists, we must never alter or forget
our principles. 9/11 was an enormous trauma to our country. The fear and anger that it provoked
was understandable. But in some cases, it led us to act contrary to our traditions and our ideals.

We are taking concrete actions to change course. I have unequivocally prohibited the use of torture
by the United States. And I have ordered the prison at Guantanamo Bay closed by early next year.


So America will defend itself, respectful of the sovereignty of nations and the rule of law. And we will
do so in partnership with Muslim communities, which are also threatened. The sooner the
extremists are isolated and unwelcome in Muslim communities, the sooner we will all be safer.

Now, the second major source of tension that we need to discuss is the situation between Israelis,
Palestinians and the Arab world. America’s strong bonds with Israel are well-known. This bond is
unbreakable. It is based upon cultural and historical ties and the recognition that the aspiration for a
Jewish homeland is rooted in a tragic history that cannot be denied.

Around the world the Jewish people were persecuted for centuries. And anti-Semitism in Europe
culminated in an unprecedented Holocaust. Tomorrow I will visit Buchenwald, which was part of a
network of camps where Jews were enslaved, tortured, shot and gassed to death by the Third Reich.

Six million Jews were killed, more than the entire Jewish population of Israel today. Denying that fact
is baseless. It is ignorant, and it is hateful.

Threatening Israel with destruction or repeating vile stereotypes about Jews is deeply wrong and
only serves to evoke in the minds of the Israelis this most painful of memories while preventing the
peace that the people of this region deserve.

On the other hand, it is also undeniable that the Palestinian people, Muslims and Christians, have
suffered in pursuit of a homeland. For more than 60 years, they’ve endured the pain of dislocation.

Many wait in refugee camps in the West Bank and Gaza and neighbouring lands for a life of peace
and security that they have never been able to lead. They endure the daily humiliations, large and
small, that come with occupation.

So let there be no doubt, the situation for the Palestinian people is intolerable. And America will not
turn our backs on the legitimate Palestinian aspiration for dignity, opportunity and a state of their


For decades, then, there has been a stalemate. Two peoples with legitimate aspirations, each with a
painful history that makes compromise elusive. It’s easy to point fingers.
For Palestinians to point to the displacement brought about by Israel’s founding and for Israelis to
point to the constant hostility and attacks throughout its history, from within its borders as well as

But if we see this conflict only from one side or the other, then we will be blind to the truth. The only
resolution is for the aspirations of both sides to be met through two states, where Israelis and
Palestinians each live in peace and security.


That is in Israel’s interests, Palestine’s interests, America’s interests and the world’s interests. And
that’s why I intend to personally pursue this outcome with all of the patience and dedication that
the task requires.

The obligations - the obligations that the parties have agreed to under the Road Map are clear. For
peace to come, it is time for them and all of us to live up to our responsibilities.

Palestinians must abandon violence. Resistance through violence and killing is wrong and it does not
succeed. For centuries, black people in America suffered the lash of the whip as slaves and the
humiliation of segregation. But it was not violence that won full and equal rights. It was a peaceful
and determined insistence upon the ideals at the centre of America’s founding.

This same story can be told by people from South Africa to South Asia, to Eastern Europe to
Indonesia. It’s a story with a simple truth: violence is a dead end. It is a sign neither of courage nor
power to shoot rockets at sleeping children or to blow up old women on a bus. That’s not how moral
authority is claimed, that’s how it is surrendered.

Now is the time for Palestinians to focus on what they can build. The Palestinian Authority must
develop its capacity to govern with institutions that serve the needs of its people.

Hamas does have support among some Palestinians, but they also have to recognize they have
responsibilities, to play a role in fulfilling Palestinian aspirations, to unify the Palestinian people,
Hamas must put an end to violence, recognize past agreements, recognize Israel’s right to exist.

At the same time, Israelis must acknowledge that just as Israel’s right to exist cannot be denied,
neither can Palestine’s. The United States does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli


This construction violates previous agreements and undermines efforts to achieve peace. It is time
for these settlements to stop.


And Israel must also live up to its obligation to ensure that Palestinians can live and work and
develop their society. Just as it devastates Palestinian families, the continuing humanitarian crisis in
Gaza does not serve Israel’s security, neither does the continuing lack of opportunity in the West
Progress in the daily lives of the Palestinian people must be a critical part of a road to peace. And
Israel must take concrete steps to enable such progress.

And, finally, the Arab states must recognize that the Arab Peace Initiative was an important
beginning, but not the end of their responsibility. The Arab-Israeli conflict should no longer be used
to distract the people of Arab nations from other problems. Instead, it must be a cause for action to
help the Palestinian people develop the institutions that will sustain their state, to recognize Israel’s
legitimacy and to choose progress over a self-defeating focus on the past.

America will align our policies with those who pursue peace, and we will say in public what we say in
private to Israelis and Palestinians and Arabs.

We cannot impose peace. But privately, many Muslims recognize that Israel will not go away.
Likewise, many Israelis recognize the need for a Palestinian state.

It is time for us to act on what everyone knows to be true. Too many tears have been shed, too
much blood has been shed.

All of us have a responsibility to work for the day when the mothers of Israelis and Palestinians could,
can see their children grow up without fear, when the holy land of the three great faiths is the place
of peace that God intended it to be, when Jerusalem is a secure and lasting home for Jews and
Christians and Muslims and a place for all of the children of Abraham to mingle peacefully together
as in the story of Isra - as in the story of Isra, when Moses, Jesus, and Mohammed - peace be upon
them - joined in prayer.


The third source of tension is our shared interest in the rights and responsibilities of nations on
nuclear weapons. This issue has been a source of tension between the United States and the Islamic
Republic of Iran. For many years, Iran has defined itself, in part, by its opposition to my country. And
there is, in fact, a tumultuous history between us.

In the middle of the Cold War, the United States played a role in the overthrow of a democratically
elected Iranian government. Since the Islamic revolution, Iran has played a role in acts of hostage
taking and violence against US troops and civilians. This history is well known.

Rather than remain trapped in the past, I’ve made it clear to Iran’s leaders and people that my
country is prepared to move forward. The question now is not what Iran is against but, rather, what
future it wants to build.

I recognize it will be hard to overcome decades of mistrust, but we will proceed with courage,
rectitude, and resolve. There will be many issues to discussion between our two countries, and we
are willing to move forward without preconditions on the basis of mutual respect.

But it is clear to all concerned that when it comes to nuclear weapons, we have reached a decisive
point. This is not simply about America’s interests.

It’s about preventing a nuclear arms race in the Middle East that could lead this region and the world
down a hugely dangerous path.
Now, I understand those who protest that some countries have weapons that others do not. No
single nations should pick and choose which nation holds nuclear weapons. And that’s why I strongly
reaffirmed America’s commitment to seek a world in which no nations hold nuclear weapons.


And any nation, including Iran, should have the right to access peaceful nuclear power if it complies
with its responsibilities under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. That commitment is at the core
of the treaty. And it must be kept for all who fully abide by it. And I am hopeful that all countries in
the region can share in this goal.

The fourth issue that I will address is democracy.


I know there has been controversy about the promotion of democracy in recent years. And much of
this controversy is connected to the war in Iraq. So let me be clear. No system of government can or
should be imposed by one nation by any other. That does not lessen my commitment, however, to
governments that reflect the will of the people.

Each nation gives life to this principle in its own way, grounded in the traditions of its own people.
America does not presume to know what is best for everyone, just as we would not presume to pick
the outcome of a peaceful election.

But I do have an unyielding belief that all people yearn for certain things: the ability to speak your
mind and have a say in how you are governed, confidence in the rule of law and the equal
administration of justice, government that is transparent and doesn’t steal from the people, the
freedom to live as you choose. These are not just American ideas. They are human rights. And that is
why we will support them everywhere.


Now, there is no straight line to realize this promise. But this much is clear. Governments that
protect these rights are ultimately more stable, successful and secure. Suppressing ideas never
succeeds in making them go away. America respects the right of all peaceful and law-abiding voices
to be heard around the world, even if we disagree with them. And we will welcome all elected,
peaceful governments, provided they govern with respect for all their people.

This last point is important because there are some who advocate for democracy only when they’re
out of power. Once in power, they are ruthless in suppressing the rights of others.


So no matter where it takes hold, government of the people and by the people sets a single standard
for all who would hold power. You must maintain your power through consent, not coercion. You
must respect the rights of minorities and participate with a spirit of tolerance and compromise. You
must place the interests of your people and the legitimate workings of the political process above
your party.
Without these ingredients, elections alone do not make true democracy.


Thank you.


The fifth issue that we must address together is religious freedom. Islam has a proud tradition of
tolerance. We see it in the history of Andalusia and Cordoba during the Inquisition. I saw it first-hand
as a child in Indonesia where devout Christians worshipped freely in an overwhelmingly Muslim

That is the spirit we need today. People in every country should be free to choose and live their faith
based upon the persuasion of the mind and the heart and the soul.

This tolerance is essential for religion to thrive. But it’s being challenged in many different ways.
Among some Muslims, there’s a disturbing tendency to measure one’s own faith by the rejection of
somebody else’s faith.

The richness of religious diversity must be upheld, whether it is for Maronites in Lebanon or the
Copts in Egypt.


And if we are being honest, fault lines must be closed among Muslims as well as the divisions
between Sunni and Shia have led to tragic violence, particularly in Iraq.

Freedom of religion is central to the ability of peoples to live together. We must always examine the
ways in which people protect it. For instance, in the United States, rules on charitable giving have
made it harder for Muslims to fulfil their religious obligation.

That’s why I’m committed to work with American Muslims to ensure that they can fulfil zakat.
Likewise, it is important for Western countries to avoid impeding Muslim citizens from practising
religion as they see fit, for instance, by dictating what clothes a Muslim woman should wear.

We can’t disguise hostility towards any religion behind the pretence of liberalism. In fact, faith
should bring us together. And that’s why we’re forging service projects in America to bring together
Christians, Muslims and Jews.

That’s why we welcome efforts like Saudi Arabian King Abdullah’s interfaith dialogue and Turkey’s
leadership in the Alliance of Civilizations.

Around the world, we can turn dialogue into interfaith service so bridges between peoples lead to
action, whether it is combating malaria in Africa or providing relief after a natural disaster.

The sixth issue - the sixth issue that I want to address is women’s rights.

I know, and you can tell from this audience, that there is a healthy debate about this issue. I reject
the view of some in the West that a woman who chooses to cover her hair is somehow less equal.
But I do believe that a woman who is denied an education is denied equality.


And it is no coincidence that countries where women are well-educated are far more likely to be

Now let me be clear, issues of women’s equality are by no means simply an issue for Islam. In Turkey,
Pakistan, Bangladesh, Indonesia, we’ve seen Muslim-majority countries elect a woman to lead.

Meanwhile, the struggle for women’s equality continues in many aspects of American life and in
countries around the world. I am convinced that our daughters can contribute just as much to
society as our sons.


Our common prosperity will be advanced by allowing all humanity, men and women, to reach their
full potential. I do not believe that women must make the same choices as men in order to be equal.
And I respect those women who choose to live their lives in traditional roles. But it should be their

That is why the United States will partner with any Muslim-majority country to support expanded
literacy for girls and to help young women pursue employment through micro-financing that helps
people live their dreams.


Finally, I want to discuss economic development and opportunity. I know that for many, the face of
globalisation is contradictory. The Internet and television can bring knowledge and information but
also offensive sexuality and mindless violence into the home.

Trade can bring new wealth and opportunities but also huge disruptions and change in communities.
In all nations, including America, this change can bring fear; fear that, because of modernity, we lose
control over our economic choices, our politics, and most importantly, our identities, those things
we most cherish about our communities, our families, our traditions and our faith.

But I also know that human progress cannot be denied. There need not be contradictions between
development and tradition. Countries like Japan and South Korea grew their economies enormously
while maintaining distinct cultures. The same is true for the astonishing progress within Muslim
majority countries from Kuala Lumpur to Dubai.

In ancient times and in our times, Muslim communities have been at the forefront of innovation and
education. And this is important because no development strategy can be based only upon what
comes out of the ground nor can it be sustained while young people are out of work.
Many Gulf States have enjoyed great wealth as a consequence of oil, and some are beginning to
focus it on broader development. But all of us must recognize that education and innovation will be
the currency of the 21st century. And in too...


And in too many Muslim communities, there remains underinvestment in these areas. I am
emphasizing such investment within my own country. And while America, in the past, has focused
on oil and gas when it comes to this part of the world, we new seek a broader engagement.

On education, we will expand change programs and increase scholarships like the one that brought
my father to America.


At the same time, we will encourage more Americans to study in Muslim communities. And we will
match promising Muslim students with internships in America, invest in online learning for teachers
and children around the world and create a new, online network so a young person in Kansas can
communicate instantly with a young person in Cairo.

On economic development, we will create a new core of business volunteers to partner with
counterparts in Muslim majority countries. And I will host a summit on entrepreneurship this year to
identify how we can deepen ties between business leaders, foundations and social entrepreneurs in
the United States and Muslim communities around the world.

On science and technology, we will launch a new fund to support technological development in
Muslim majority country and to help transfer ideas to the marketplace so they can create more jobs.
We will open centres of scientific excellence in Africa, the Middle East and Southeast Asia and
appoint new science envoys to collaborate on programs that develop new sources of energy, create
green jobs, digitize records, clean water, grow new crops.

Today, I’m announcing a new global effort with the organization of the Islamic Conference to
eradicate polio. And we will also expand partnerships with Muslim communities to promote child
and maternal health.

All these things must be done in partnership. Americans are ready to join with citizens and
governments, community organizations, religious leaders, and businesses in Muslim communities
around the world to help our people pursue a better life.

The issues that I have described will not be easy to address, but we have a responsibility to join
together to behalf of the world that we seek, a world where extremists no longer threaten our
people and American troops have come home; a world where Israelis and Palestinians are each
secure in a state of their own and nuclear energy is used for peaceful purposes, a world where
governments serve their citizens and the rights of all God’s children are respected. Those are mutual
interests. That is the world we seek. But we can only achieve it together. I know there are many,
Muslim and non-Muslim, who question whether we can forge this new beginning. Some are eager to
stoke the flames of division and to stand in the way of progress. Some suggest that it isn’t worth the
effort, that we are fated to disagree and civilizations are doomed to clash.
Many more are simply sceptical that real change can occur. There is so much fear, so much mistrust
that has built up over the years. But if we choose to be bound by the past, we will never move
forward. And I want to particularly say this to young people of every faith in every country. You more
than anyone have the ability to reimagine the world, the remake this world.

All of us share this world for but a brief moment in time. The question is whether we spend that time
focused on what pushes us apart or whether we commit ourselves to an effort, a sustained effort to
find common ground, to focus on the future we seek for our children and to respect the dignity of all
human beings.

It’s easier to start wars than to end them. It’s easier to blame others than to look inward. It’s easier
to see what is different about someone than to find the things we share. But we should choose the
right path, not just the easy path. There is one rule that lies at the heart of every religion, that we do
unto others as we would have them do unto us.


This truth transcends nations and peoples, a belief that isn’t new, that isn’t black or white or brown,
that isn’t Christian or Muslim or Jew. It’s a belief that pulsed in the cradle of civilization and that still
beats in the hearts of billions around the world. It’s a faith in other people. And it’s what brought me
here today.

We have the power to make the world we seek, but only if we have the courage to make a new
beginning, keeping in mind what has been written. The holy Koran tells us: “Mankind, we have
created you male and a female. And we have made you into nations and tribes so that you may
know one another.”

The Talmud tells us: “The whole of the Torah is for the purpose of promoting peace.”

The holy Bible tells us: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.”


The people of the world can live together in peace. We know that is God’s vision. Now that must be
our work here on Earth.

Thank you. And may God’s peace be upon you. Thank you very much.

Thank you.

To top